145 women accept bids, 23 minority

145+women+accept+bids%2C+23+minority

Mark Hammontree

Fifty years after the desegregation of The University of Alabama and two months after several black students were dropped from formal recruitment, 12 of the University’s 18 Panhellenic sororities have at least one black member.

In a video statement sent to students Tuesday morning, President Judy Bonner gave an update on the continuous open bidding process that has been in place since Sept. 16. In Tuesday’s video, Bonner said sororities had issued a total of 200 bids, 145 of which had been accepted. Of those students who accepted bids, 23 were minorities, including 14 black students.

Bonner did not give the number of bids that were extended to minority students, and UA Director of Media Relations Cathy Andreen told The Crimson White that the University does not have those numbers.

“You can be assured that the Office for Greek Affairs will continue to work with both local chapters and national organizations to provide support for all members and we continue to develop plans for the spring 2014 and fall 2014 recruitment periods, so our progress will translate into lasting change in the months and years to come,” Bonner said in the video.

The CW attempted to get clarification on the plans for the spring and fall 2014 semesters, but Andreen said further information was currently unavailable as plans are still under development.

“Sororities may participate in continuous open bidding and pledge new members at any time through the academic year as long as their total chapter membership is below chapter total,” Andreen said in an emailed statement.

Tuesday, afternoon, the faculty senate met to, among other agenda items, elect its two faculty senate representatives to the task force that will convene to address the issue of discrimination and corruption on campus.

Before the senate attended to the voting and regular business, Bonner addressed the body in two parts: the first concerning the updates to the bidding process and the second concerning financial and budgetary issues facing the University.

The first part of Bonner’s statement almost matched the transcript of her video message. After speaking, Bonner left the meeting and did not offer time for senators to respond or ask questions.

Toward the end of the senate meeting, Faculty Senate President Steve Miller opened the floor for senators to voice their opinions and bring any issues to the body. Senator Jennifer Purvis, an associate professor of women’s studies, said Bonner’s representation of bid numbers was not an accurate measure of solving the issues.

“Clearly, whoever is writing the president’s speeches is not fully cognizant of the issues that the faculty and students are concerned about, because that was just a bean count. I’m sorry,” Purvis said to the other senators. “As if the numbers of people who are offered bids who have accepted is a sure sign of progress.”

Purvis said she thought a new non-discrimination policy would be a better sign of progress on the administration’s part.

In the video statement, Bonner also said other schools have contacted the administration seeking advice on taking similar actions at their own institutions.

“As you might imagine, we have received encouraging calls, emails and letters from all across the nation,” Bonner said. “In fact, we have also heard from other universities, who have watched what The University of Alabama has done in the span of less than a month and who have asked for suggestions about ways they can follow our lead.”

Andreen declined The Crimson White’s request for the names of the colleges to which Bonner was referring.

“These universities contacted UA in confidence and we are not identifying them,” Andreen said in an emailed statement.

Bonner also noted the diversity of the Interfraternity Council fraternities and said seven IFC fraternities have black members and all have minority members.

“We are pleased to report that the fraternity presidents met and reaffirmed their commitment to diversity and inclusiveness with a resolution signed by every fraternity president,” Bonner said in the video.

Andreen provided The Crimson White with a copy of the resolution signed by the fraternity presidents.

“It is our goal to work towards the betterment of the greek community and the University as a whole,” the resolution reads. “We will create an environment that is open and accepting to all members of the Capstone community, regardless of background or ethnicity.”

The resolution also commends the Alabama Panhellenic Association for its efforts over the past few weeks and states that the IFC will find proactive steps to progress the greek community and the University.

“We appreciate all the opportunities The University of Alabama has afforded us and will make a concerted effort to ensure that these same opportunities are available to everyone,” the statement reads. “It is our hope to continue to strengthen the foundation and reputation The Capstone has built over its storied history.”

The IFC resolution offers no specifics as to how the goals will be achieved. Similarly, other than continuous open bidding, the University has given no details as to any other plans or active steps taken to ensure a permanent end to the discrimination present in the greek community.

Meredith Bagley, an assistant professor of communication studies and one of the senators elected to the new task force, said she hoped that the task force would be able to find more concrete ways to hold the administration accountable.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to zero in on some tangible steps that can be taken to keep progressing,” Bagley said. “We will have to continue to keep the administration to their word.”